Tunisian parliament approves prime minister’s proposed Cabinet reshuffle

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The Tunisian parliament approved on Monday a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed amid a political and economic crisis.

The approval is widely seen in Tunisia as a victory for Chahed over his political opponents, including his party Nidaa Tounes, who demanded that he step down because of his government’s failure to revive the economy.

Chahed faced lawmakers in a marathon debate.

The debate lasted more than 12 hours, a sign of the enmity coursing through Tunisia's political scene.

Chahed needed 109 votes to keep his government from collapsing.

Chahed pleaded for “political stability the nation needs to overcome difficulties,” notably economic and social, ahead of 2019 legislative and presidential elections.

Chahed, 41, incurred new anger among detractors a week ago, including from the Tunisian president and the prime minister’s prime political enemy, the president’s son, with his appointment of 19 new Cabinet ministers. The changes were aimed at “ending the political crisis,” he said, but the reshuffle exacerbated enmity from his opponents.

The office of President Beji Caid Essebsi, who chose Chahed for the job of prime minister in 2016, said the president was informed of the changes “very late” and by mail.

While naming a new justice minister, Karim Jamoussi, Chahed made no changes to key ministries like interior or defense.

He also brought some surprise faces into the government, notably a Tunisian Jew, Rene Trabelsi, as tourism minister, a first in more than 50 years. He also named as minister of public function Kamel Morjane, who served as defense and foreign minister under the now-toppled Ben Ali.

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